Thus far in our North America Pet Travel Spotlight series we've discussed the basics of planning a safe trip and examined the truth about cargo pet travel. There's still more to learn, of course, and now it's time to find out about some of the most common pitfalls pet travelers face during this process.
Your upcoming pet relocation can run much more smoothly than you might think -- especially if you take the time to read over these possible problems (and their solutions).
You don't have a travel crate.
The travel crate is one of the most important parts of the pet move, so do yourself a favor by making sure you have the right one well in advance of your move.
The crate needs to be airline approved (double check this, as occasionally crates are misrepresented).
Measure your pet correctly so that you can choose the right sized travel crate.
Ask your Pet Travel Specialist to provide recommendations for stores (either a pet store or an online store) and have them review photos of your pet standing inside the crate to make sure you're good to go.
Now that you have a crate, assemble it and start to crate train your pet, as this is an important way to help them enjoy a safe and low-stress flight. Here are some crate training tips especially geared towards pets who may be less than thrilled with the prospect of spending time in the crate.
You're not located near a major airport.
The ultimate routing of your pet's trip will depend on several things, including where you are starting the journey. Major cities with large airports tend to offer the most options, and smaller airports can present challenges because there aren't as many routes to choose from and the planes servicing these airports tend to be smaller (thus limiting the capacity to transport large/multiple pet crates).
So, what are your options if this is the case?
Discuss alternate plans with your Pet Travel Specialist and find out what they recommend.
Stay open minded: Maybe you wanted a direct flight, but if that's not possible then at least make sure your pet can have a comfort stop between flights.
Consider driving to a larger airport with your pet to secure a better route. Again, maybe you hadn't planned on this initially, but staying flexible will make the trip easier in the end.
You have a big dog.
Having a large pet is another factor that could complicate pet travel, as large pets need large crates, large crates can only fit on certain-sized planes, and smaller ports tend to be serviced by smaller planes (see above).
Again, talk to your Pet Travel Specialist to find out what your options are and be prepared to drive your pet to a larger port if necessary.
Also, you may not consider your dog "big," but you'd be surprised to find out that many medium-sized dogs (especially if they're tall) easily require a large travel crate.
Truly large dogs may even need custom crates, which adds an additional set of steps to the process.
You want to move at the height of summer, winter, or on a holiday.
Though summer and the weeks around the winter holidays are popular times to relocate or travel, these are in fact tricky times to ship a pet. In the summer when it's hot and in the winter when it's cold, many airlines operate with abbreviated schedules or impose restrictions in order to keep pets safe and protected from the elements.
Avoid problems by researching your pet's flight options and, if possible, choose a pet safe airline like United that is less affected by temperature embargoes.
Since you'll be dealing with office closures, high passenger volume and possible weather delays during the holidays, we advise avoiding holiday pet travel altogether and planning to go before or after, instead.
You're only considering ground transportation.
Though this mode of travel sounds safer and easier to many people, in reality ground transportation can be far more difficult (and expensive) to arrange than cargo travel on a pet safe airline.
If you have reservations about cargo travel or pet air travel in general, take a look at our expert guide explaining why cargo travel is the best choice in most cases.
If ground travel is your only option, use IPATA.org to find a reputable agent and be prepared for the costs and time involved: because you're paying for someone's time as well as fuel costs and other travel expenses, ground travel for pets can be more expensive than you might think.
This is Part Three of PetRelocation's North America Pet Travel Spotlight. Stay in touch for more helpful guidance and contact us today if you're ready to connect to a Specialist who can help you plan your pet's move.